(from Tuesday)

We’ve been so swamped the past couple of days that I haven’t even had a chance to jump on my computer to work.

Yesterday’s class was GREAT! Benaja had to email a translation so we started class without him. I successfully instructed mentors and students in Creole and they really took over like pros. We are so proud of them.

Lionel, one of our group leaders, told us he would be late to class but ended up arriving AFTER class. It frustrated us. He’s doing a great job as a teacher but he’s not the strongest group leader. He’s been a controversial part of the program from the start- a bit of a slow learner, extremely slow on the computer, not any less interested but perhaps needs more time to figure things out on his own. Joseph and Lionel joined us on Sunday to send their first mentor reports but it didn’t end up working out because the Internet was having trouble connecting. Not to mention that Lionel really needed some help typing.

After resisting any micromanaging and forced changes from the top, Lionel missing class entirely was enough for me to finally agree with the fact that he needed to be replaced. We talked to his group first and they smiled and said they were thinking the same thing too. We mildly chided them for not speaking up (which is what I was hoping they would do, rather than us having to step in). We explained to them that starting in a few days, we won’t be around to make necessary changes and they will have to take the initiative themselves. We talked about it for a little bit and I think they understood that they need to take more responsibility for themselves. After we talked to them, Lionel showed up and we talked with him too. He agreed to let someone who might be a little bit faster and a bit of a stronger figure take the reins. On Wednesday we’ll all meet up together and talk about who should fill that role.

We also discussed absences/tardiness of students and mentors during our mentor meeting. We take attendance but don’t really take action when students come late over and over. Bill and I made it clear to the mentors that this is their camp now, and if they want it to run smoothly, they need to be strict with their rules.

I’m really glossing over what we talked about, but I will say that the mentor meeting went extremely well. Not only was everyone very receptive, but they asked lots of questions, debated with each other, and, I think, are going to be able to carry this program quite well. We told them how strongly we feel about this program’s success, and they agreed. They believe in this program as much as we do. And they insisted that they would do everything in their power to make it the biggest success it can be.

Today (Tuesday) we are in Port-au-Prince picking up the last of the laptops to see if we can salvage anymore “good” ones (ie ones without that horrible clock problem that is keeping them from starting). Luckily, I sent an email to Luke and Adam of OLPC and they put all hands on deck to get us the hardware we need to fix the about 100 broken computers. Thank goodness.

Yesterday I sat down with Joseph’s brother, Abela, who works with Haiti Partners. We were sitting under his little tin roof lean-to, looking at the remains of his home- a beautiful two-story building that is now a couple of tiles and lots of space. He praised the computer program and seemed so pleased that it was going well here in Leogane. I told him that there are a number of people in the USA that believe that laptops are not the answer right now, especially in areas like Leogane that are most affected by the earthquake. He and Joseph looked at me like I was crazy. “Are you kidding??” he asked. “Food, water, sure, we need that. But EDUCATION- that’s what we really need right now! Without it, how will we be able to build our own?” Joseph added the fact that the kids in Leogane need something to focus on, more than anything. So many children have PTSD and they just need to look forward. They feel helpless and they need to make use of themselves, and take their minds off of what happened to them and their families.

Abela sat for a moment. We told him how grateful we were for his hospitality and he fell silent. When he spoke, he told us about how, after the earthquake, everyone went to stay in camps but he couldn’t do it. He would come home everyday, early in the morning, and sit outside his house and just be quiet. He says his post-traumatic stress is terrible.

We think of the children who are still staying in tents, and we think about how our education program is helping their minds to not only escape, but to grow. These children finally feel that they are worth something. And in Leogane, the program is more valuable than anything.

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